The State of Industrial Hazardous Waste in Maine 2012

By Lindsay Garrard and Siya Hegde

Executive Summary

The State of Industrial Hazardous Waste in Maine is the third chapter comprising The State of Maine’s Environment 2012. This report has been produced collectively by Environmental Policy students in the Environmental Studies Program at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. This is the seventh State of Maine’s Environment report published since 2004.

Hazardous waste in Maine is regulated throughout the processes of generation, transportation, and disposal. The majority of the state’s hazardous waste is generated by military facilities, particularly the US Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery. Among the most common types of hazardous waste are lead and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which pose significant human health risks. Although most of Maine’s hazardous waste is generated by large industrial corporations, the small businesses generating hazardous waste far outnumber them. Maine exports 11 times more hazardous waste than it imports. While the state does not contain any hazardous waste disposal facilities of its own, it does have three treatment and storage facilities.

Maine excels in waste product stewardship initiatives, with its product stewardship and E-waste recycling laws serving as models for the nation. Though Maine handles and disposes of relatively little to no hazardous waste, we recommend that Maine incentivizes industrial hazardous waste reduction and expands its Green Certification Program to include larger corporations producing greater quantities of hazardous waste.


Over the last century, hazardous waste has been an unfortunate result of US economic expansion (Flowers & Linderman, 2003). The US generates the most hazardous waste in the world: in 2009, the total amount generated reached nearly 71 billion pounds (Pohl, Tarkowski, Buczynska, Fay, & De Rosa, 2008). The bulk of this waste comes from industrial activity. There are significant environmental implications associated with solid municipal, radioactive, agricultural, and household hazardous waste. For the purpose of this study, however, we exclusively examine industrial hazardous waste. While there are economic benefits associated with electronic, agricultural, and bio-based products generated by industries, there are negative externalities that result from hazardous waste production (Jensen, 2012). As more industrial hazardous waste is generated nationwide, Americans are left with fewer suitable disposal sites to choose from. This has consequently resulted in the transportation of about 95% of hazardous waste across state and national boundaries from its initial source (Jensen, 2012).

Across the US, the waste generated by industries results in detrimental human health and environmental impacts if it is left unregulated (Bowen, 1998). Exposure to hazardous materials through improper disposal or unplanned releases is linked to significant health effects including the impairment of chromosomal, endocrinal, and nervous system function, as well as the onset of cancer (Smith, 2013). Although national hazardous waste figures are inexact, estimates indicate that about 94% of total waste generated is improperly handled, which magnifies the threat of potential exposure to humans and/or contamination of the environment (Smith, 2013). Oftentimes, metals such as lead, arsenic, or chromium, that are contained within wastes may leach out in the form of contaminated liquid and pollute ground water (US EPA, 2012d).

The risk of exposure to hazardous waste through its management processes prompted Congress to enact environmental laws to regulate waste disposal and treatment. Among the most salient of these laws are the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), and the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments (HSWA) (Kraft, 2011). Due to the widespread adverse health impacts of hazardous waste exposure, industry and consumer compliance with hazardous waste regulations is imperative.

Definition of Hazardous Waste

Hazardous waste is defined as waste that is potentially harmful to human and environmental health and can take the physical form of a solid, liquid, or gas (US EPA, 2012k). The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies hazardous wastes by designated codes that specify their hazardous chemical properties (“characteristic wastes”) and source origin (“listed wastes”). Ignitable wastes are non-liquid characteristic wastes that vigorously burn upon ignition and have risks of creating a fire upon moisture absorption and high friction conditions. Corrosive wastes have the capacity to destroy metals or exposed body tissues (US EPA, 2012d). Reactive wastes can create hazardous fumes and have the potential to explode or react violently when exposed to water. Toxic wastes contain chemical substances that pose significant risks to humans when ingested or absorbed (US EPA, 2012d).

Hazardous wastes may also fall into categories that describe their sources: F-wastes, or non-specific sources, are generated by commerical or industrial processes; K-wastes are identified based on their association to specific industrial sources; U-listed (toxic hazardous) and P-listed (acutely hazardous) waste categories consist of discarded commerical chemical products, such as pharmaceuticals or pesticides (US EPA, 2012p).

Historical Context

At the turn of the 20thcentury, when urban populations grew across the US, the majority of cities had developed their own waste collection and management systems (Tammemagi, 1999). According to a review by Robinson (1986), the US federal government, prior to the 1970s, funneled resources entirely into solid waste management by awarding states planning grants to manage solid municipal waste and to research and develop resource recovery facilities. Although 25 states managed hazardous waste as of 1975, their programs were severely understaffed and varied in their definitions of hazardous waste. Hazardous waste remained unregulated until a series of hearings held by the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Transportation and Commerce communicated to the general public the adverse health effects caused by the improper disposal of hazardous waste. The Committee attained this information through unofficial EPA damage assessment reports and consequently acknowledged the need for federal hazardous waste regulation (Robinson, 1986).

As the “Environmental Decade,” the 1970s was a period of groundbreaking federal legislation that was enacted after a wave of public concern with the country’s air, water, and soil pollution and lack of corporate accountability (Kraft, 2011). It was only then that Congress enacted policies that considered addressing the national problems associated with hazardous waste management. On October 21, 1976, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) was passed as the first law to establish federal regulation of hazardous waste. RCRA established a “cradle-to-grave” management system of waste from initial generation to ultimate disposal (US EPA, 2012n).

Abandoned, accidentally spilled, or improperly disposed hazardous waste was brought to national attention through the Love Canal tragedy in Niagara Falls, New York. In 1942, the Hooker Chemical and Plastics Corporation purchased the unfinished Love Canal site from the Niagara Power and Development Company to use as a landfill for its industrial waste (Phillips, Hung, & Bosela, 2007). By the end of 1953, Hooker had dumped 21,800 tons of industrial wastes such as pesticide residues, process slurries, and waste solvents – including at least 12 known carcinogens – into the Love Canal basin (Phillips et al., 2007). Hooker then proceeded to sell the land to the town’s Board of Education as a construction site for a school and surrounding homes. Two decades later, many residents on nearby or adjacent properties began to suffer grave health effects, such as spontaneous abortions and congenital malformations, and in 1978, a federal state of emergency was declared (Phillips et al., 2007). Love Canal proved to be among the nation’s most egregious examples of improper and irresponsible disposal of highly toxic waste. The event shed light on the issues of hazardous waste management and environmental justice and stimulated the passage of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) in 1980. Under CERCLA, sites that are placed on the National Priority List (NPL) are recognized as hazardous waste sites that are either abandoned or in critical need of long-term remedial action. The policy also established a trust known as Superfund that provided financial means of cleaning up sites when responsible corporations could not be identified (US EPA, 2012c).

Goals and Objectives

This chapter examines the management of Maine’s industrial hazardous waste as it passes through the three major stages of the waste cycle: generation, transport, and disposal. We first outline influential laws, institutions, and stakeholders. We then assess major trends and the human health, economic, and environmental implications of our findings. Finally, we conclude with our major findings, create possible future scenarios, and provide policy recommendations.


We reviewed primary literature that consisted of documents accessed through Academic Search Premier, the National Service Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP), Google Scholar, the Colby College Library, and the Interlibrary Loan Network.

We communicated with Abigail King, a policy advocate working for the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM). She directed us to documents published by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) that outlined Maine’s hazardous waste legislation and initiatives. We reviewed some of the MDEP’s past biennial reports on the state’s hazardous waste activities and corresponded with the director of the Bureau of Remediation and Waste Management, Ronald Dyer. He directed us to specialists Cherrie Plummer and Kevin Jenssen, who sent us waste import/export, shipping and handling, listed codes, generation trends, generator facility, and remediation data. Hazardous waste data for 2012 manifests was compiled up until July, so we chose to use manifest data from 2011 to provide a more accurate assessment of the state of Maine’s industrial hazardous waste.

We used data from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to access a list of human health effects from hazardous waste exposure and a list of waste generator facilities and waste quantities. We used data from the Maine Office of Geographic Information System (MeOGIS) to map New England state boundaries, 2010 population census blocks, and county distribution with Geographic Information System (GIS) software. With guidance from Colby College’s GIS specialist, Dr. Manuel Gimond, we designed two maps displaying the distribution of Maine’s National Priority List (NPL) sites and 50 large hazardous waste generator facilities.

Laws and Institutions

Laws concerning the state of hazardous waste in Maine aim to protect the health of the public and environment. Federal statutes such as the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) relate to the generation and handling of hazardous waste and have broadened the scope of liability for resulting adverse health effects (Hall, 1983). Such laws mandate that states abide by standard regulations and provide states with a model from which they can base their own policies. The following sections summarize select federal and state laws pertaining to industrial hazardous waste regulation.

Federal Legislation Related to Hazardous Waste

We have identified seven influential federal laws that regulate industrial hazardous waste.

Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (1975)

The 1975 Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HMTA) was the first law to protect individuals against risks to their property and health that may result from the transportation of commercial hazardous materials (US DOE, 2012). The HMTA mandated the classification of hazardous materials (including wastes) by specifying packaging and labeling information. Carriers and shippers of hazardous wastes generated by Department of Energy-designated facilities are expected to obtain an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) waste identification number and handle waste discharges (US DOE, 2012).

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (1976)

Congress enacted the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) in 1976 with the intention of protecting human and environmental health from the adverse effects of hazardous waste. Along with regulating the management activities of hazardous waste (Subtitle C), RCRA also regulates municipal solid waste (Subtitle D) and chemically contaminated storage tanks (US EPA, 2012n). Under RCRA, hazardous wastes are defined as listed, characteristic, universal, or mixed, and there are certain provisions established to control their cleanup. The EPA is authorized to implement RCRA programs that grant permits to waste facilities and has successfully implemented RCRA provisions within 46 states (US EPA, 2012a). These states have EPA-approved hazardous waste programs and are authorized to implement them directly. The federal government oversees states without approved hazardous waste programs.

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (1980)

The 1980 Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), or Superfund, was established to clean up waste sites that release or have the potential to release hazardous substances. Under CERCLA, removal actions attempt to reduce or eliminate any listed hazardous waste and toxic chemicals that threaten human or environmental health (US EPA, 2012c). Remedial actions, resulting from preliminary assessments and site inspections, are undertaken to ensure a more permanent eradication of hazardous substance threats. Additionally, CERCLA is a reporting act in that it identifies parties responsible for hazardous releases and requires that they provide monetary compensation for their actions (US EPA, 2012c).

Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments (1984)

The Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments of 1984 (HSWA) added stricter provisions to RCRA and strengthened EPA standards to better protect human health and the environment. Standards were issued for generators based on the amount of hazardous waste they produced. Section 3004 created the Land Disposal Restrictions (LDR) program, which comprises three major stipulations: a) the Disposal Prohibition, which states that treatment standards devised for specific hazardous wastes must be met prior to land disposal; b) the Dilution Prohibition, which requires that hazardous waste be properly treated and not simply diluted; and c) the Storage Prohibition, which states that waste must be treated and may not be stored indefinitely to avoid treatment. The restrictions further prohibit the placement of bulk or non-containerized liquid hazardous waste in a landfill and prohibit the disposal of non-hazardous liquid waste in any hazardous waste landfill. Furthermore, they require that each new landfill or surface impoundment have at least two liners and a leachate collection system as well as a groundwater monitoring system, and they regulate facilities that use hazardous waste as fuel or to produce fuel. The ultimate goal of these provisions was to phase out land disposal of hazardous waste (US EPA, 2012o). Other notable requirements include a ban on the underground injection of hazardous waste into or above any formation within a quarter mile of a drinking water well and regulations addressing the leakage of underground storage tanks (US EPA, 2012o).

Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (1986)

Title III of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) authorized the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). The EPCRA was enacted to increase transparency between manufacturers and the public by informing the latter of hazardous substance threats (US EPA, 2012g). The EPCRA established the “community right to know requirements” which mandated that manufacturing facilities involved in the processing or storage of hazardous chemicals supply state and local officials with Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) describing the chemicals’ health effects (42 U.S.C. Chapter 16 § 311-12). Congress has required each state to establish its own State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) in order to inform citizens about substance releases and develop emergency evacuation procedures (SERC, 2012).

Hazardous Materials Transportation Uniform Safety Act (1990)

The Hazardous Materials Transportation Uniform Safety Act (HMTUSA) of 1990 amended the 1975 HMTA through provisions to create uniformity among state and local highway transport regulations. It also devised criteria for the issuance of federal permits to motor carriers of hazardous materials (US DOE, 2012). Workers involved with the transport of hazardous materials are mandated to undergo training for handling, communicating, and classifying waste information. Under the HMTUSA, the Secretary of Transportation continues to be the primary enforcement agent for designating materials as hazardous based on their inherent properties and risks upon exposure (US DOE, 2012).

 Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act (2012)

In October 2012, President Obama signed the Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act. The Act is an amendment of the Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1965 that RCRA amended in 1976. A manifest is an official paper document that accompanies every hazardous waste shipment from its point of generation to its designated disposal location. An electronic manifest system will increase efficiency in relaying hazardous waste disposal and shipment information. According to Jacobs (2012), the electronic manifest system will significantly alter the way hazardous waste is tracked by the EPA (Jacobs, 2012). The EPA will be authorized to establish a new electronic manifest system within three years that will ease the costliness of federal regulatory processes.


Table 3.1 Selected federal laws relating to hazardous waste in Maine





Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HMTA)


Regulates the labeling, packaging, and spill reporting provisions of commercial hazardous and radioactive materials in transit; carriers and shippers must certify their compliance with Department of Transportation statute. USC Title 49 Chapter 51 § 5101-28
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)


Regulates the generation, transportation, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste materials, and authorizes the EPA to conduct waste inspections. USC Title 42 Chapter 82 § 6901-91
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA)


Identifies substances as being hazardous or potentially hazardous. It also addresses abandoned or closed waste sites and provides trust funds for their cleanup, ensuring that responsible parties are held accountable for releases. USC Title 42 Chapter 103 § 9601-75
Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments (HSWA)


Amended RCRA to create stricter standards to minimize hazardous waste generation, phasing out land disposal of hazardous waste, and providing corrective action for unplanned releases. USC Title 42 Chapter 82 § 6928a
Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA)


Establishes that all federal, state, and local stakeholders have the right to access information about the use and release of hazardous substances. USC Title 42 Chapter 116 § 301-304 and 311-313
Hazardous Materials Transportation Uniform Safety Act (HMTUSA)


Amended HMTA by mandating the training of workers dealing with commercial hazardous waste and material transportation, and strengthened packaging regulations; unified state and local highway transport regulations USC Title 49 Chapter 51 § 5101-5127
Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act (S. 710)


Directs the EPA to establish an electronic manifest system of tracking hazardous wastes, and enables generator, shipment, treatment, storage, and disposal facilities to access it as needed USC Title 42 Chapter 82 § 3024

State Legislation Related to Hazardous Waste

Maine laws related to industrial hazardous waste build on federal regulations established under RCRA. The state is permitted to create its own provisions provided that the provisions are as stringent as the federal ones.

Maine Hazardous Waste, Septage and Solid Waste Management Act (1979) 

Enacted in 1979, the Maine Hazardous Waste, Septage and Solid Waste Management Act became the first state law in Maine to address safe waste management and transportation practices. In its series of rules entitled, “Maine Hazardous Waste Management Regulations,” the law mandates the licensing of waste transporters across state borders and prohibits the operation of waste facilities without permits (ECAR, 2010). The Act also intended to coordinate a statewide waste reduction and recycling program that includes the reuse of waste in industries and households throughout Maine (MRS Title 38 § 2101 and 1302).

Electronic Waste (E-Waste) Law (2004)

Maine’s E-waste law regulates household electronic products such as televisions and computer monitors. Many of these devices contain toxic substances such as heavy metals and PVC plastics that are released into the environment either directly or indirectly, posing significant hazards to human health and the environment (MDEP, 2012d). The E-waste Law establishes a statewide comprehensive electronics recycling system in which manufacturers assume the costs of e-waste recycling, and households, public schools, small businesses, and nonprofits are responsible for bringing their e-waste to a collection site or event. The law also restricts retailers from selling covered electronic devices in Maine unless a) the manufacturer is in compliance with the E-waste Law and b) the product brand is registered with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) (MRS Title 38 Chapter 16 § 1610).

Cell Phone Recycling Law (2007)

The Cell Phone Recycling Law requires all cell phones to be recycled in Maine. Any retailer that sells cell phones must accept used cell phones from consumers at no cost and recycle, reuse, and/or dispose of them. All retailers must also post a prominent notice visible to the public that states, “We accept used cellular telephones at no charge.”Additionally, all cell phone service providers must report annually to the MDEP with the number of cell phones they have collected and how they were disposed of, reused, or recycled (MRS Title 38 Chapter 24 Subchapter 3 § 2143).

Table 3.2 Maine laws relating to hazardous waste





Maine Hazardous Waste, Septage and Solid Waste Management Act


Authorizes the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to issue regulations for the transportation and safe management of hazardous wastes within Maine MRS Title 38 Chapters 850-857 § 1273; 1281; 1301-1302; 1304
Maine Electronic Waste (E-Waste) Law


Establishes comprehensive state electronics recycling system and divides product stewardship responsibilities among manufacturers, consolidators, municipalities, and other relevant parties. MRS Title 38 Chapter 16 § 1610
Cell Phone Recycling Law


Requires all retailers that sell cell phones to accept used cell phones to be recycled at no cost to the consumer and all cell phone service providers to report annually to the DEP the number of phones collected and how they were disposed of, reused, or recycled. MRS Title 38 Chapter 24 Subchapter 3 § 2143

State Legislation Relating to Hazardous Waste Product Stewardship

Mercury-Added Products and Services Law (1999)

The Mercury-Added Products and Services Law establishes a product stewardship program for mercury-added products that demands transparency from manufacturers. Manufacturers must provide written notice before adding mercury to products, disclose mercury content information to hospitals upon request, and properly label mercury-added products or they may not be sold in Maine. The law also contains restrictions on the manufacture, sale, and use of certain mercury-added products and prohibits the deliberate disposal of mercury-added products with other solid waste. Lastly, manufacturers of motor vehicles and thermostats with mercury-added components are responsible for managing the recycling, reuse, and disposal of their products (MRS Title 38 Chapter 16-B § 1661-72).

Maine Product Stewardship Law (2010)

The Maine Product Stewardship Law, “An Act To Provide Leadership Regarding the Responsible Recycling of Consumer Products,” was the first law in the nation to create a framework for prioritizing and identifying hazardous products eligible for product stewardship evaluation. This law expands on Maine’s existing product stewardship laws for mercury-containing products and electronic waste, which were devised product-by-product. The law allows the state to analyze and address other potentially problematic consumer products according to their degree of importance and concern. Under the law, the MDEP reviews existing Product Stewardship Programs (PSPs) and prioritizes them to identify candidate products. Once the MDEP nominates a candidate product for a PSP, stakeholders have the opportunity to voice their input. From there, producers are responsible for the implementation of the PSP, which is pre-authorized by the Natural Resources Committee (NRCM, 2010).


Table 3.3 Maine laws relating to product stewardship programs





Mercury-Added Products and Services Law


Restricts and/or bans the sale and distribution of certain mercury-added products in Maine. Contains provisions for the proper labeling and recycling, reusing, and/or disposal of mercury-containing products and assigns product stewardship responsibilities to manufacturers of mercury-added thermostats and motor vehicle components. MRS Title 38 Chapter 16-B § 1661-72
An Act To Provide Leadership Regarding theResponsible Recycling of Consumer Products


Establishes framework to identify hazardous products for new product stewardship programs. Manufacturers of said products are responsible for covering the costs of collecting, transporting, reusing, recycling, or disposing of unwanted products. Expands on Maine’s existing product stewardship programs for e-waste and mercury-containing products. MRS Title 38 Chapter 18 § 1771-75


Primary stakeholders, such as federal governmental agencies and offices, are directly involved in hazardous waste management regulations, while secondary stakeholders, such as local non-profits and residents, are indirectly involved.

Federal Governmental Agencies

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the primary federal agency that administers federal hazardous waste laws. The EPA’s mission is to protect human health and the environment by ensuring that federal legislation is effectively enforced (US EPA, 2012r). The EPA develops national plans in response to human-environmental risks by drawing on credible and up-to-date scientific information accessible to all residents, businesses, and regional, state, and local governments (US EPA, 2012r). In terms of its efforts to mitigate the effects of hazardous waste, the EPA has recently launched a new initiative to safely dispose of used and recycled electronics (US EPA, 2012j). The EPA is responsible for presenting information about waste types, generators, transporters, treatment, storage, disposal, and recycling as well as implementing and enforcing federal hazardous waste laws.

The EPA’s Region 1 office oversees Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, which collectively make up New England (referred to as “Region 1”). The office attends to site clean-up projects, Superfund enforcement programs, recycling facilities, and current event news summaries regarding hazardous waste in New England. It is a resource that provides up-to-date information regarding clean-up and reuse efforts in local communities (US EPA, 2012e).

Maine Department of Environmental Protection

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) manages the operation of state hazardous waste facilities. This agency regulates the generation, use, and disposal of both household and industrial hazardous waste. The MDEP aims to enhance the public’s right to utilize all state resources by making regulatory decisions to mitigate and control air, water, and land pollution (MDEP, 2012a). Since its establishment in 1972, the agency has developed three main bureaus to target high priority environmental programs: Air Quality, Water Quality, and Remediation and Waste Management. Published documents made available to the public through the MDEP’s database include reports on waste monitoring, solid and hazardous waste product stewardship and recycling programs, and waste management certification, licensing, and permit policies. Additional resources include biennial reports of hazardous waste activity, municipal landfill remediation programs, and legislative summaries pertaining to Maine’s environmental agendas.

Industrial Corporations

Industrial hazardous waste is generated by the activities of manufacturing corporations and private businesses. The operation of these facilities is regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). In order to generate hazardous waste legally, the facilities must obtain an official EPA identification number, comply with record-keeping and labeling standards, and submit biennial reports of the quantities of hazardous waste generated (Robinson, 1986). Corporations are sorted into two categories of hazardous waste generation: large quantity generators (LQGs), which produce at least 2,640 pounds per year, and small quantity generators (SQGs), which produce less than 2,640 pounds per year (MDEP, 2008). In Maine, LQGs include national corporations with branches across the country, such as Evonik Cyro Inc. and Texas Instruments Inc., as well as Maine-based corporations, such as Katahdin Analytical Services and Southern Maine Specialties.

Civil Society Organizations

A number of civil society organizations (CSOs) are actively involved with environmental issues in Maine and have influenced the perspectives and decisions of state policy-makers through their advocacy efforts. The following groups are examples of CSOs that drive citizen education and social justice initiatives relating to hazardous waste.

Maine People’s Alliance      

Maine People’s Alliance (MPA) is a grassroots organization that provides community residents with a platform to voice and share their concerns about various social, environmental, and political issues. There are three organized chapters of the MPA, located in Lewiston, Portland, and Bangor. The MPA leads a number of outreach initiatives that mobilize activists across the state. In 2010, a public hearing was held regarding the remediation of Maine’s largest mercury waste site in Orrington. As the MDEP continued its efforts to clean up the site, the MPA stepped in to advocate for “complete removal of the hazardous waste from the site as the only viable remediation option” (MPA, 2010). As an extension of this fight for a toxic-free environment, the MPA also works to hold polluting corporations accountable for their negative impacts on Maine’s human and environmental health.           

Natural Resources Council of Maine

The Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), through statewide lobbying efforts and other advocacy projects, is instrumental in the passage of state legislation and has contributed significantly to the development of Maine’s environmental policies. One of its key initiatives is to promote a toxic-free Maine in which industrial practices dealing with mercury and recycling/disposal of products have become an issue of concern (NRCM, 2012a). The NRCM is at the forefront of promoting a sustainable product stewardship program, in which producers fund the recycling of their own products. The NRCM has also influenced legislation pertaining to the recycling of products with mercury, lead, and other hazardous chemicals (NRCM, 2012a).

Environmental Health Strategy Center

The Environmental Health Strategy Center (EHSC) is a non-profit organization that works to reduce toxic substances in consumer products and waste streams. Initiatives include science-based advocacy and organized campaigns that aim to protect the health and wellbeing of Mainers. These efforts work to promote safer alternatives to hazardous substances and innovative policy solutions (EHSC, 2012).

Toxics Action Center

The Toxics Action Center (TAC) is a regional grassroots organization that collaborates with hundreds of communities across New England to mitigate toxic pollution. It is involved in initiatives including the clean-up of hazardous waste sites and the reduction of industrial pollution (TAC, 2012). The TAC encourages the involvement of citizens who are directly affected by hazardous waste pollution by working with them to manage clean-up efforts. Since 1987, the TAC has rallied the support of over 625 New England communities through its public health campaign efforts (TAC, 2012).

State of Industrial Hazardous Waste

In order to evaluate the state of Maine’s industrial hazardous waste, we examined waste generation, transportation, and disposal activities and identified important explanatory factors driving overall trends.


Most of the hazardous waste generated in Maine comes from industrial sources. Generator facilities throughout the state that are licensed under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) are responsible for the generation of Maine’s industrial hazardous waste. These facilities are regulated regardless of the volume of waste that they generate and are characteristically classified as being either large quantity generators (LQGs) or small quantity generators (SQGs). Maine, however, recognizes some facilities as SQG Pluses, which generate as much waste as an SQG and also accumulate up to 1,320 pounds of waste at any given time (MDEP, 2008). Overall, the majority of Maine’s hazardous waste comes from relatively few LQGs, and the quantity generated fluctuates annually.

The complete 2011 hazardous waste manifest data set includes both RCRA waste as well as remediation waste under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). The remainder of hazardous waste includes abandoned or spilled wastes that are cleaned up under the provisions of CERCLA. Most of the waste that ultimately falls under the jurisdiction of CERCLA is generated from remediation projects at one of Maine’s 13 National Priority List (NPL) sites (Figure 3.1). These sites include military bases, private corporations, and municipal landfills (Appendix 3.1).

While thousands of NPL sites have been located and examined across the country, Maine currently has 13, three of which are federal facilities. Brunswick Naval Air Station, Loring Air Force Base, and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard are all military bases, while the remaining ten NPL sites consist of hazardous waste landfills, private corporations, waste oil facilities, and metal facilities. The Brunswick Naval Air Station was listed as an NPL site in July of 1987 and has since undergone numerous physical cleanup activities (US EPA, 2012b). Cleanup impact summaries from the EPA state that human exposures to hazardous contaminants at the station are under control (US EPA, 2012b). The Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, Maine was listed as an NPL site in February of 1990, and, similar to the Brunswick Naval Air Station, its cleanup initiatives have mitigated human exposures to hazardous contaminants (US EPA, 2012q). Lastly, the US Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, which became an NPL site in May 1994, has completed early remedial action (US EPA, 2012s).



Figure 3.1 Distribution of National Priority List (NPL) sites in Maine (Source: US EPA, 2012i)

Trends in Annual Waste Generation

The total amount of hazardous waste generated in Maine includes manufacturing and other commercial activities, as well as remedial clean-up projects of Superfund and corrective action sites (MDEP, 2005). Thus, the amount of industrial hazardous waste varies from year to year depending on the number of remediation sites and the volume of waste cleaned up in each (MDEP, 2005).

In 2003, the state generated a record 36.8 million pounds of total hazardous waste, approximately 21 million pounds of which was due to the implementation of two corrective action and remediation projects (Figure 3.2; (MDEP, 2005). The first project site, the Eastland Woolen Mill in Corinna, which used benzene-chlorinated dye for woolen products, had about 14 million pounds of chlorobenzene-contaminated soil removed, while the second, the National Semiconductor in South Portland, had 6.7 million pounds of other solvent-contaminated soil removed (MDEP, 2005). This left nearly 16 million pounds of hazardous waste attributed to industrial sources of activity. The total hazardous waste generated then drops in quantity by 19 million pounds in 2004. There is an increase of 3.8% in total hazardous waste generated from 2004 to 2005.

There is a second peak in 2007 in which the state generated 24.4 million pounds of total hazardous waste. Of this amount, about 2 million pounds were lead-contaminated wastes removed from the US Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, while about 3 million pounds were mercury-contaminated soils that were removed from the Holtrachem site in Orrington, which manufactured chlorine bleach, sodium hydroxide, and pesticides (Figure 3.2; MDEP, 2009; US EPA, 2012s).

As both peaks display, Maine generated relatively less hazardous waste from manufacturing and other commercial activities than it did from clean-up projects. This indicates that the majority of the hazardous waste generated in these years was from the implementation of clean-up projects that dealt with old hazardous waste instead of from the generation of new industrial hazardous waste. The total amount of hazardous waste generated has increased since 2009, with the second highest total of 27.8 million pounds generated in 2011 (Figure 3.2). This can be attributed to the continuation of Portsmouth Naval Shipyard’s large remediation projects that have been ongoing since 2010 (Plummer, pers. com.).

Figure 3.2 The growth of Maine’s total hazardous waste generation from 2003 to 2011 (Source: MDEP, 2011d)

The Diversity of Maine’s Industrial Sectors that Generate Hazardous Waste

Maine’s economy has historically relied upon its timber, paper manufacturing, fishing, tourism, and military industries (Rose, 2004). In today’s economy, Mainers are consuming less in an effort to bring about stronger environmental outcomes (Huynh, 2009). As a result, the total amount of hazardous waste produced by the state’s consumer-based sectors, such as corporate manufacturing, retail, and professional services, comprises about 29% of total hazardous waste. This is collectively less than the 71% of hazardous waste produced by non-consumer based sectors, which includes military, educational, health, and public works facilities (Figure 3.3).

Today, the largest source of industrial hazardous waste in the state is the military, which generates about 43% of total hazardous waste (Figure 3.3). The US Portsmouth Naval Shipyard contributes about 92% of the state’s military industrial hazardous waste, which is equivalent to approximately 40% of the state’s total hazardous waste (Figure 3.3). At the shipyard, approximately 185 of the 278-acre plot is considered a “high-density industrial area,” and hazardous waste generation has occurred on 30 acres (US EPA, 2012s).

Educational facilities, on the other hand, are fewer in number throughout the state than corporations. They consist of secondary and higher secondary institutions, universities, and community colleges. Research facilities, such as Jackson Laboratories in Bar Harbor, are also included in this category, and many of the listed wastes they have generated are biomedical equipment and chemicals used for testing. Nearly 23% of generated waste comes from state institutions, which include arts and recreational facilities (i.e., museums and parks), official municipal facilities, and public sites. Public works, which account for about 0.3% of hazardous waste generation, include designated public work departments and water supply facilities. Health institutions, which include hospitals and other medical and dental facilities, generate about 0.5% of hazardous waste.

Among the consumer-based industrial sectors in Maine, professional services, such as laundromats and auto repair shops, generate about 0.6% of hazardous waste. Transportation and retail are similar in their relative percentages of total hazardous waste generated at about 1% each. Transportation includes aviation and automobile facilities, while retailers mainly include supermarkets, wholesale clubs, and department stores.

Figure 3.3 Total percentage of hazardous waste generated by different industrial sectors in Maine (Source: MDEP, 2011d)

Hazardous Waste Classification in Maine

The classification of hazardous waste in Maine falls primarily under federal jurisdiction, although there are some waste types that are state specific. In Maine, the waste type designated by the code M002 is polybrominated biphenyls (PCBs) with contaminant levels at or above 50 parts per million. According to the 2011 data manifest, they are recognized by Maine as a “listed” waste and constitute the bulk of the state’s generated waste at 26.2% of its total during the 2011 fiscal year. U- and P-wastes collectively comprise only about 1% of total generated hazardous waste.

D-wastes, which are about 72% of Maine’s hazardous waste, have been designated as metals or other toxic wastes. Among the most common metals found in generated waste are lead, arsenic, and chromium (Table 3.7).

As clarified in the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s (MDEP) Biennial Activities Report (2011): “many wastes can have more than one waste code to describe that waste.” For example, PCBs or metals can be assigned codes according to their source – specific or non-specific – and according to their chemical properties. Therefore, the total quantity of hazardous waste of each property or listed type as displayed in Figure 3.4 is only a minimum.


Figure 3.4 Total quantity of hazardous waste generated as classified by property or listed type in Maine (Source: MDEP, 2011d)

Maine’s Hazardous Waste Generator Facilities

Among the 50 largest currently active hazardous waste generators in Maine are the military, oil companies, schools, and technological service facilities (Appendix 3.4). These top hazardous waste generators, as shown in Figure 3.5, are all LQGs. They are more concentrated along Maine’s southern coast, especially in York and Cumberland counties, where there is a higher population density. Collectively, all of Maine’s LQGs produce nearly 97% of total industrial hazardous waste, while all SQGs produce only about 3%. There is a scarcity of generator facilities in Arookstook, Somerset, and Penobscot counties within Maine’s unorganized territory (UT), where there is neither urban economic activity nor industrial producing facilities. Although only the 50 largest hazardous waste generators are shown, there are hundreds more SQGs across the state that are still producing a considerable quantity of hazardous waste.


Figure 3.5 Distribution of Maine’s 50 largest hazardous waste generator facilities (Source: MDEP, 2011a)

We ranked the ten largest hazardous waste generators in descending order of quantity of hazardous waste generated (Table 3.4). We found that they collectively account for over three-quarters of Maine’s total hazardous waste, with the US Portsmouth Naval Shipyard contributing approximately 40% and the Callahan Mines contributing approximately 17% (Table 3.4). Callahan Mines has been designated as the fourth largest hazardous waste generator facility in the state, with only 6% of total hazardous waste contribution. As the leading generator facility, the US Portsmouth Naval Shipyard generated nearly 12 million pounds of hazardous waste in 2011 alone. Although this site generated a disproportionately higher quantity of hazardous waste – over twice of that generated by Callahan Mines – the percentages of total hazardous waste of the remaining eight facilities are more similar. Texas Instruments Inc., the state’s third largest hazardous waste generator facility, contributes 4% of total hazardous waste, while the tenth largest hazardous waste generator facility, the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station in Cutler (NCTAMS), contributes 1% (Table 3.4). Of the ten largest hazardous waste generators, four of them are military facilities. Refer to Appendix 3.4 for a more extensive list of the top hazardous waste generators in Maine.

Table 3.4 The ten largest hazardous waste generator facilities in Maine (Source: MDEP, 2011a)


Name of Facility


Quantity of Waste Generated (lbs)

Percentage of Total Waste (%)


US Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Kittery




Callahan Mines Brooksville




Texas Instruments Inc. South Portland




Evonik Cyro Inc. Sanford




US Naval Air Station Brunswick




Maine National Guard Bangor Training Range Bangor




Webster Intermediate School Auburn




Pratt & Whitney North Berwick




General Dynamics Armament Systems Saco




NCTAMS Lant Det Cutler




Almost all generators of hazardous waste also ship hazardous waste to a treatment, storage, and disposal facility (TSDF), the final destination of waste in the hazardous waste stream. In order to ensure the safe transportation of hazardous waste, RCRA authorizes the EPA to provide detailed standards for regulated hazardous waste transporters regarding packaging, labeling, reporting, and record-keeping, including their compliance with a complex manifest system (US EPA, 2012m). Any time that transporters accept hazardous waste from generators, they must sign and date the waste’s accompanying manifest, an official document that tracks hazardous waste from its generation to its ultimate disposal. The signed manifest verifies the transporter’s receipt of the waste from the generator, which then receives a copy of it before the waste is officially shipped out of the facility.

Transporters must transport the waste to the permitted TSDF indicated on the accompanying manifest and must obtain the signature of the owner or operator of the designated TSDF. The federal manifest system administered in Maine ensures that the waste’s official shipping name, classification, toxicity, and quantity information is recorded and traceable in case of any emergency that may occur during the waste’s transportation. Furthermore, the system equips emergency responders with the transporter’s contact information so that they are aware of who is in control of the waste during any stage of its transportation (US GPO, 2011).

Maine’s Hazardous Waste Exports

According to the 2011 manifests, about 2 million pounds of the 27 million total pounds of hazardous waste that Maine exported was shipped to other New England states. Massachusetts received almost half (49%) of Maine’s exported hazardous waste within New England, while Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire received the next greatest amounts of Maine’s hazardous waste respectively (Figure 3.6). We can attribute Massachusetts’ large share of Maine’s hazardous waste exports within New England to its greater treatment, storage, and disposal capacity in comparison to other New England states: according to the EPA’s RCRA database, RCRAInfo, in 2010 Massachusetts had 13 operating TSDFs (US EPA, 2010). New Hampshire received the least amount of hazardous waste from Maine out of Maine’s total exported hazardous waste to New England. New Hampshire does not have any hazardous waste disposal facilities of its own; therefore the exported waste to New Hampshire was most likely stored temporarily before being sent to a final disposal facility in another state (Michel, pers. com.). However, only 6% of Maine’s total exports are delivered to other New England states. The remaining 94% of hazardous waste exports go to other states across the country and Quebec.

Figure 3.6 Maine’s total hazardous waste exports to New England (Source: MDEP, 2011b)

Similar to New Hampshire, Maine has relatively few TSDFs, despite being the largest state in New England with a land area of roughly 30,840 square miles (US Census Bureau, 2010). The state has only three licensed TSDFs: the US Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, ENPRO Services of Maine Inc., and Central Maine Power. The MDEP’s data manifest on hazardous waste exportation indicates that these three facilities combined stored and treated 2,676 pounds of in-state hazardous waste. The remaining 90% of hazardous waste generated in Maine was exported out-of-state.

Maine’s Hazardous Waste Imports

Maine imports relatively little out-of-state hazardous waste, with imports totaling 2,374,197 pounds. It imports exclusively from three New England states – Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire – and Quebec, undoubtedly due to their geographic proximity. Maine imports 40,399 pounds of hazardous waste from other New England states, comprising less than 2% of Maine’s total hazardous waste imports. The remaining 98% of total hazardous waste imported into Maine comes from Quebec. As shown in Figure 3.7, Massachusetts is the leading exporter of hazardous waste to Maine among the New England states, which can be attributed to its significant industrial generation capacity and infrastructure: the RCRAInfo database indicates that in 2010, Massachusetts had 9,649 active hazardous waste generators (US EPA, 2010). Connecticut and Rhode Island, on the other hand, did not export any hazardous waste to Maine. Overall, Maine exports 11 times more hazardous waste to other states than it imports from other states.

Figure 3.7 Maine’s total hazardous waste imports from New England (Source: MDEP, 2011c)

The Transportation of Maine’s Hazardous Waste in the Context of New England

 In comparison to the rest of New England, Maine is the second lowest shipper and receiver of hazardous waste, followed closely by Vermont. As indicated in Figure 3.8, the order of New England states remains consistent for both shipment and receipt of hazardous waste in the region.

Figure 3.8 Total hazardous waste shipped to and from New England (Source: US EPA, 2009)

Treatment, Storage, and Disposal

The treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste is the most heavily regulated stage in the hazardous waste stream due to the associated human health implications of improper disposal (US EPA, 2012l). TSDFs face the most onerous requirements under RCRA: they must be designed, maintained, and operated to prevent the release of hazardous waste into the environment and therefore must develop contingency plans, emergency procedures, corrective action programs, and compliance monitoring programs (USC Title 42 Chapter 264). In the case of a hazardous waste release into the environment, CERCLA provides penalties and financial compensation (Robinson, 1986).

Hazardous Waste Treatment

RCRA hazardous waste falls under the Land Disposal Restrictions (LDR) program and is therefore labeled “restricted waste,” waste for which the EPA has established treatment standards specific to the waste material’s hazardous properties (US EPA, 1994). Treatment involves the chemical processing of hazardous waste intended to alter and destabilize its hazardous constituents.

Land disposal remains the most common hazardous waste disposal practice in the US (US EPA, 2012l). Land disposal encompasses the disposal of hazardous waste into land disposal units such as landfills, surface impoundments, waste piles, or land treatment units, all of which are regulated under Subtitle C of RCRA (Table 3.5). Maine does not contain any landfills that are designed to handle hazardous waste, but most of the hazardous waste that passes through Maine is ultimately disposed of in land disposal units (Nilsson, pers. com.).

Table 3.5 Types of hazardous waste land disposal units regulated under RCRA (Source: US EPA, 2012l)

Type of Land Disposal Unit


Landfill Contains non-liquid hazardous waste; must comply with inspection and monitoring requirements to prevent leakage and contamination of soil/water resources
Surface impoundment Natural or man-made depressions in the earth used for temporary storage or treatment of liquid hazardous waste
Waste pile Non-contained accumulation of non-liquid hazardous waste
Land treatment unit (LTU) Treat hazardous waste applied to topsoil layer using soil microbes and sunlight that degrade, transform, or disable its hazardous components

Case Study


The HoltraChem Manufacturing Company’s contamination of the Penobscot River with mercury and other toxic pollutants stands among the largest hazardous waste clean-up projects in state history (Miller, 2008). The chlor-alkali plant, which utilized mercury in its processes, was in operation from 1967 until 2000 (MDEP, 2012f). During that time, the facility legally and illegally released mercury into the soil on the banks of the Penobscot River (The University of Maine, 2012). In 2000, the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) and the Maine People’s Alliance (MPA) filed a lawsuit against HoltraChem and the facility’s former operator, Mallinckrodt Inc., demanding a study plan that could determine the degree of harm caused by mercury contamination and a timetable for a remediation plan to address the repercussions of mercury contamination (MPA, 2010). In November of 2008, Mallinckrodt was charged with the cleanup of mercury-contaminated soil contained in five landfills on the plant’s property, a project that is expected to cost between $100 million and $200 million (Miller, 2010). Remediation is currently underway and Mallinckrodt continues to monitor the site daily (Mallinckrodt US LLC, 2012).


Incineration is another popular treatment method that simultaneously removes the hazardous constituents from hazardous waste while reducing the volume of the waste on average by 90% (Tammemagi, 1999; US EPA, 2012f). The primary risk associated with incineration is the potential release of contaminants such as dioxins and furans into the air and the threat this poses to human health; thus it is imperative that incineration facilities implement stringent emissions controls, carefully monitor operations, and utilize the most up-to-date technology (Tammemagi, 1999). Another drawback to the use of incinerators is the large up-front costs to construct them (Tammemagi, 1999). While the use of incineration has increased nationwide (Tammemagi, 1999), Maine does not contain any incineration facilities of its own that exclusively combust hazardous waste (Nilsson, pers. com.).

Product stewardship programs (PSPs) are another method of waste management in Maine in which hazardous waste producers are held responsible for a product throughout its lifecycle and all potential impacts of the product are addressed. Producers cover and manage the costs of collecting, transporting, reusing, recycling and/or disposing of the unwanted product, and these costs are not included in the price of the product upon purchase (NRCM, 2012c). Maine’s E-waste law requires this of all electronics manufacturers and in doing so reduces the amount of toxics from electronic products sent to landfills by encouraging the re-use and recycling of hazardous waste (NRCM, 2012b). PSPs reduce the environmental and human health impacts of hazardous consumer products sent to incinerators and landfills, shift financial responsibility for collection and recycling/disposal costs from taxpayers to producers and consumers, and promote the reuse and recycling of valuable materials that would otherwise go to waste (Wagner & Bouvier, 2011). The programs also incentivize producers to minimize the toxicity of their products and maximize their recyclability in order to lower overall costs.

Trends in the Treatment, Storage, and Disposal of Maine’s Hazardous Waste

According to the MDEP’s 2011 manifest data, over 18 million pounds, or about 61% of Maine’s hazardous waste, was ultimately disposed of in an out-of-state landfill or surface impoundment. The handling code listed as “None” in Table 3.6 indicates that the waste was most likely stored temporarily (Plummer, pers. com.); we can therefore infer that 16% of all hazardous waste was stored in Maine’s TSDFs. Approximately 11% of total hazardous waste was transferred off site, the next most popular method of handling. This is consistent with Maine’s high hazardous waste exportation rate and limited TSDF capacity discussed above. Incineration was the next most popular treatment method followed by waste fuel blending at 3.5% and 2% respectively.

Table 3.6 Total quantity of Maine’s hazardous waste classified by handling method (Source: MDEP, 2011d)

Handling Code

Quantity of Waste (lbs)

Percentage of Total Waste (%)

Code translation




Disposal in landfill




Temporary storage




Transfer off site




Incineration and thermal destruction




Used as an energy fuel




Retorting, smelting, and chemical recovery of metals




Other treatment




Fuel blending before energy recovery happened at another site




Stabilization or chemical fixation before disposal at another site




Other chemical precipitation




Discharge to sewer




Recycled off site




Solvent recovery (distillation, extraction)




Chemical reduction




Deepwell or underground injection




Neutralization only




Chemical oxidation




Reclamation and recovery for re-use


Human Health Implications Attributed to Hazardous Waste Exposure

The most common modes of human exposure to hazardous waste are inhalation and absorbtion through skin. Contact with commerical wastes, such as aerosols, medical toxics, or paint materials, can lead to a number of acute and chronic health conditions. Table 3.7 displays the five most common toxic substances contained in Maine’s hazardous waste with their associated potential human health effects upon exposure. Effects range from neurocognitive and immunological to respiratory and reproductive, with exposures to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and benzene-containing waste leading to the onset of cancer. In Maine, at least 45% of total hazardous waste contains lead, while 5% of wastes contains arsenic, benzene, or chromium (Table 3.7).

The Callahan Mines in Brooksville is undergoing the cleanup of PCBs and soils containing lead and arsenic, producing enough PCBs to fill 302 truckloads of hazardous waste material within five months (Moretto, 2012). The US Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, on the other hand, is the primary lead generator in the state of Maine (Table 3.4). Much of the lead it generates comes from materials such as aerosol cans, machine coolant, coating used on boat and submarine tiles, waste gasoline, diesel, and paint solvents (US EPA, 2011). Other facilities throughout Maine that are responsible for lead generation include state and regional hospitals, hydroelectric corporations, and paper mills.

Hazardous waste from specific sources, such as waste treatment facilities, includes characteristic waste, but also poses minimal risk of exposure to individuals working outside of waste or chemical industries. As displayed in Figure 3.5, most generators of hazardous waste in Maine are situated in areas of higher industrial and urban activity, thus increasing the risk of human exposure to hazardous chemicals. Although treatment, storage, and disposal facilities (TSDFs) do not dispose of any hazardous waste in Maine, they mostly treat and store PCBs and heavy metals, such as lead and chromium. As Table 3.7 indicates, all of these waste types are known for their potential adverse health effects. The remaining 24% of hazardous waste that is not presented in the table include other heavy metals such as barium, cadmium, mercury, and silver, as well as hazardous waste that exhibits one of the four EPA- designated chemical properties.

Table 3.7 Human health effects from exposures to hazardous waste chemicals (Sources: MDEP, 2011e; US EPA, 2012h; ATSDR, 2012)

Waste Code Hazardous Waste Quantity of Waste (lbs) Percentage of Total Waste (%) Potential Health Effects





Hypertension; anemia; kidney and liver damage; hearing loss; decreased sperm count; delayed muscle coordination





Carcinogenic; suppress the immune system and decrease birth weight of infants





Severe allergic reactions; respiratory failures; kidney and liver damage; lung cancer





Carcinogenic; disruption of normal blood production (can lead to anemia or severe bleeding); rapid heart rate; convulsions





Digestive problems; risk of diabetes; hypotension; headaches; abdominal pain

Economic and Environmental Implications

Financial benefits of high civilian employment often take precedence over the human health and environmental costs. The US Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, according to Miller (2012), generated a civilian payroll of about $408 million in 2011 for about 4,700 employees (Miller, 2012). In addition, the facility has been recognized as an integral asset to national defense and the most efficient shipyard out of the remaining four Navy shipyards in the country (Favinger, 2012). However, as previously discussed, the hazardous waste types that the US Portsmouth Naval Shipyard generates, such as lead, pose significant human health risks to workers and surrounding communities upon exposure.

State-wide initiatives such as Maine’s Product Stewardship Programs (PSPs) that have addressed hazardous waste disposal have resulted in positive environmental implications. PSPs have worked to ensure that electronic waste, the fastest growing portion of the national waste stream, is responsibly recycled so that toxic materials found in electronic consumer products are diverted from the traditional waste stream. As a result, PSPs have prevented the contamination of air, soil, and water with lead and other heavy metals. Since 2006, the state’s E-Waste law has recycled over 37 million pounds of electronic waste, prevented 4 million pounds of lead from entering landfills and incinerators, and prevented over 600 million pounds of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (NRCM, 2012b).

Increases in industrial hazardous waste generation and improper disposal yield an increase in GHG emissions (UK DEFRA, 2011). Effective and cost-efficient hazardous waste management methods can therefore mitigate atmospheric pollution. Hazardous waste decomposition within landfills creates potent GHGs, such as methane, which can impair air quality around the landfill (Tammemagi, 1999). The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) has taken initiative in monitoring annual air emissions produced by each licensed hazardous waste generator facility. As limits of GHG pollutants have been established within Chapter 137 of the MDEP Rules, air emissions must be reported when the concentration of one or more pollutant exceeds the minimum allowable threshold (MDEP, 2012c; Appendix 3.5).


State hazardous waste policies can shape the future of hazardous waste management. Political, economic, and social factors may influence the future state of industrial hazardous waste in Maine. We suggest the following three scenarios as plausible futures for industrial hazardous waste in Maine.

Excelling in Environmental Stewardship

Maine’s 2010 Product Stewardship Law would set the stage for the development and implementation of a number of product stewardship programs for priority consumer products containing hazardous materials. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) and non-profit organizations such as the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) would actively work to increase awareness about the sources, types, and quantities of industrial hazardous waste generated and transported in the state and invest in alternative waste management strategies such as hazardous waste recycling and reuse (Hamilton, 2012).

As waste generation and management continue to be regulated responsibly, Maine’s land would be preserved for alternative uses. With the closure of some of the state’s largest quantity generators, such as the US Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, the state government would invest more money and resources in providing new job opportunities in tourism and recreation and preserving Maine’s environment. This work would further Maine’s status as a national leader and innovator in environmental stewardship.


The small proportion of large quantity generators (LQGs) in the state would continue to produce the vast majority of its industrial hazardous waste, while disproportionately more small quantity generators (SQGs) would collectively contribute only a tiny fraction of total industrial hazardous waste. Military bases would account for the bulk of the state’s hazardous waste, which would consist of lead and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Ongoing clean-up projects at National Priority List (NPL) sites would continue to contribute to a steady climb in total hazardous waste generation. Maine would continue to export more of its hazardous waste than it imports. The majority of Maine’s hazardous waste would be treated or temporarily stored in-state and ultimately disposed of out-of-state. In regards to consumer products containing hazardous materials, Maine would continue to lead the nation in waste product stewardship.

Open for Business

A pro-industry and anti-regulation administration in Maine would welcome more industrial development, resulting in the influx of large national corporations. This would increase the number of LQGs across the state. Over time, the total amount of industrial hazardous waste would increase and there would be a greater need for in-state hazardous waste disposal facilities. Investment in cheaper facilities, such as landfills, would transform Maine into a dumping ground for the surrounding region. Therefore, although an increase in industrial output and hazardous waste disposal facilities of this nature would provide more job opportunities, it would lower residential property values and increase the risk of human exposure to hazardous waste.


Maine’s total hazardous waste generation has fluctuated over the last decade depending on the number of remediation sites and the volume of waste cleaned up in each site. While there are two noticeable peaks present, including a record high of total hazardous waste generated in 2003, the rise in generation since 2009 has led to the second highest total of hazardous waste generated in 2011. The state’s largest quantity hazardous waste generator, the US Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, is responsible for producing about 40% of the state’s total hazardous waste. Over half of the state’s hazardous waste is produced by the two largest hazardous waste generators and largely consists of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are highly toxic and carcinogenic. There are far more small quantity generators than large quantity generators, yet large quantity generators account for almost all of Maine’s industrial hazardous waste.

Most of Maine’s hazardous waste is exported to other states. In fact, Maine exports 11 times more hazardous waste than it imports. Overall, it stands as the second lowest shipper and receiver of hazardous waste in New England. Maine contains no hazardous waste disposal facilities of its own, but does contain three treatment and storage facilities that either temporarily store hazardous waste or transfer it off site. The state is setting standards in the region for waste product stewardship, with its E-waste law serving as a model for other states across the country.


In 2005, the federal Base Realignment and Closure committee (BRAC) considered the shipyard for closure, but the naval base was ultimately removed from the list, thanks in part to widespread congressional and public opposition. Thus, we do not think it is likely that the shipyard will face closure in the next proposed BRAC round scheduled for 2013, though we encourage further discussion about the hazardous waste that the site independently generates and support investment in alternatives. We were able to come to the conclusions we did only because we actively sought out and sorted raw data from manifests for the purposes of this report. Since our findings have such significant implications, more specific data on military waste activities in Maine should be made available to the public in a more accessible form.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) should also further incentivize the reduction of hazardous waste in industrial processes. Because relatively few large quantity generators are generating nearly all of the state’s industrial hazardous waste, the state should continue to support small, private businesses through financial aid and compliance assistance. Currently, the MDEP Sustainability Unit, which was created in early 2012, oversees a Green Business Certification program in which lodging facilities, restaurants, and grocers can receive points for sustainable practices such as adopting an environmental policy and using non-toxic chemicals for landscaping (Krout, pers. com.; MDEP, 2012e). The program should be expanded to target larger industrial corporations that generate most of Maine’s industrial hazardous waste and should incentivize the phase-out of certain hazardous waste types that may result in significant human health effects upon exposure.


Appendix 3.1 National Priority List sites in Maine (Note: * indicates federal facility) (Source: US EPA, 2012i)

Site Name


Date of Listing

McKin Co. Gray


O’Connor Augusta


Winthrop Landfill Winthrop


Brunswick Naval Air Station* Brunswick


Union Chemical Co., Inc. South Hope


Loring Air Force Base* Limestone


Saco Municipal Landfill Saco


Portsmouth Naval Shipyard* Kittery


West Site/Hows Corners Plymouth


Eastern Surplus Meddybemps


Eastland Woolen Mill Corinna


Callahan Mine Brooksville


Leeds Metal Leeds



Appendix 3.2 Waste code descriptions (Source: US EPA, 2012h)

Waste Code
























D012 – D040

Other toxics


PCBs (over 50ppm)


Waste from non-specific source


Waste from specific source


Discarded commercial chemical products


Appendix 3.3 Quantity of hazardous waste produced by each industrial sector in Maine (Source: MDEP, 2011d)

Name of Industry

Quantity of Waste Generated (lbs)





Other State Facilities








Professional Services


Health Services


Public Works


Appendix 3.4 The 50 largest hazardous waste generator facilities in Maine (Source: MDEP, 2011a)

Name of Facility



Quantity of Waste Generated (lbs)

US Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Kittery York


Callahan Mines Brooksville Hancock


Texas Instruments Inc. South Portland Cumberland


Evonik Cyro Inc. Sanford York


US Naval Air Station Brunswick Cumberland


Maine Natl. Guard Bangor Training Range Bangor Penobscot


Webster Intermediate School Auburn Androscoggin


Pratt & Whitney North Berwick York


General Dynamics Apartment Sys. Saco York


NCTAMS Lant Det Cutler Washington


Lake Region High School Naples Cumberland


Fairchild Semiconductor Corp. South Portland Cumberland


Southern Maine Specialties Saco York


General Electric Co. Auburn Androscoggin


Irving Oil Terminal Inc. Searsport Waldo


Enpro Services of Maine, Inc. South Portland Cumberland


Buckeye South Portland Terminal South Portland Cumberland


Bath Iron Works Bath Sagadahoc


Praxair Surface Technologies Biddeford York


Central Maine Power-North Augusta Augusta Kennebec


HoltraChem Manufacturing Orrington Penobscot


Sullivan Schools Apartments Berwick York


Rynel Inc. Wiscasset Lincoln


Oxford Aviation Oxford Oxford


Rumford Paper Mill Rumford Oxford


The Former Cascade Woolen Mill Oakland Kennebec


Silvex Surface Technology Westbrook Cumberland


Maine Medical Center Portland Cumberland


Maine Environmental Depot, Llc. Lewiston Androscoggin


Cold Brook Energy Inc. Hampden Penobscot


Buckeye Bangor Terminal Bangor Penobscot


Maine Alum Grand Isle. Grand Isle Aroostook


Katahdin Analytical Services Inc. Scarborough Cumberland


Masters Machine Co. Round Pound Lincoln


Citgo Petroleum South Portland Terminal South Portland Cumberland


Gulf Oil Limited Partnership South Portland Cumberland


J J Noble Trucking Wallagrass Aroostook


Nordx Laboratories Scarborough Cumberland


Bangor Hydro Electric Co. Veazie Penobscot


University of Southern Maine Gorham Cumberland


Maine Public Service Co. Presque Isle Aroostook


Environmental Projects Inc. Household Hazardous Waste Collection Skowhegan Somerset


Circle K #7004 Medway Penobscot


Robichauds Auto Orrington Penobscot


R H Foster Hampden Penobscot


B&S Scrap Recycling Hudson Penobscot


Pioneer Plastics Corp. Auburn Androscoggin


Northeast Coating Technologies Kennebunk York


Fairpoint Vault Portland Cumberland


Maine RS Maintenance Center Limestone Aroostook



Appendix 3.5 Minimum thresholds for greenhouse gas emissions set by MDEP Rules, Chapter 137 (Source: MDEP, 2012b)

Greenhouse Gas

Air Emissions Threshold (tons/year)

Carbon Monoxide (CO)


Ammonia (NH3)


Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)


Nitrogen Oxides (NOx)


Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)


Fine Particulate Matter (PM 10)


Fine Particulate Matter (PM 2.5)


Lead (Pb)



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